Last week I went to How To Make Money While Making What You Love
presented by UncommonGoods
and hosted by Rabbithole Studio
in DUMBO (Brooklyn, NY). Why was I there? To learn from seasoned designers and creators. Who was there? Tina Roth Eisenberg of Swissmiss
Jeff Davis of Vinylux
Nicky Skarstad of Etsy
Anna Rabinowicz of Rablabs
Here's my take away from the discussion... Branding
Remember to always be consistent
. From packaging to tone to the product or service, be certain that everything is cohesive
. Your brand should be packaged in such a way that everything just aligns, it makes sense, nothing is out of place, nothing seems off. When people see your product or brand, they know that it is, in fact, you (or your brand). Also, you are your brand. Right? I mean if you are solo doing your thing then really you are your brand. I remember back when I was interviewed once a few years ago. The person interviewing me said that my work looked like my work. Meaning it all looked like it was created by one person. That is what your brand should be and it goes along with the paragraph above. The panel also suggested asking yourself "what am I trying to accomplish as a designer?" I love this question because it reminds me to not get stuck inside the world I have semi-created for myself (subway map cuff bracelets anyone?). As a designer and creative individual I am also in looove with color, textiles, furniture, other objects, spaces, behaviors. social design, people....etc. etc. etc....! So I thought of this question as a larger part of my goal as a designer/creator/ innovator/entrepreneur/etc. What am I trying to accomplish as a designer? Well now I have something bigger to think about and put on my five year plan! Packaging
Keep packaging costs low. In other words, don't spend all of your hard earned money (or someone else's money) on packaging. I think it was Jeff who said that spending too much on packaging could put you out of business. Keep it simple. For instance, I purchased an iPad case on Etsy a few months ago. It came in a large yellow envelope, the case was wrapped in brown paper with a lovely multicolored string holding it all together. There was a simple but nicely designed tag that had the brand name on it and contact information. Done. Simple. Low cost solution. My Metro Cuffs come in either a poly bag or bubble bag with a very slim sleeve wrapped around each cuff to let someone know exactly what it is that they are looking at. I have to do this because I also have to purchase more packaging when I am shipping each cuff individually. So in order for me to keep costs low I keep the ultimate packaging aka my sleeve very simple. On that note however, the panel suggested putting a little extra love
inside or on the package. At Tattly they put lots of different stamps on the outside of the packages. Tina said that she receives so many messages about the stamps and she sees a lot of her customers taking pictures of them and posting them around the web. When you throw in or add-on something a little extra you enhance the overall customer experience. You can do this and still keep the costs low. Trade Shows
This group explained the value of trade shows being a testing ground for potential new products. When you have a hundreds upon hundreds of buyers coming by your booth, what better way to test your product? Also, you can find out the level of interest and order accordingly which could save you money and time in the long run. The first year I did the New York International Gift Fair we put out a few prototypes. Buyers came by, expressed interest, some purchased them and when the show was over I put an order in with my manufacturer. I didn't have those styles sitting in my studio or whatever. It didn't matter, I told buyers the date of the launch and they purchased anyway. Any other Advice?
Tell your story and tell it well. People love that. That was Nicky's (Etsy) suggestion and I agree with her. When I first started doing this people told me to not talk about how I came up with the idea for the Metro Cuffs. Now I tell it willingly and people like to know because it is interesting, even if you think it isn't. People love to hear success stories or ah-ha moments (if that's what you think it was) or stumbled-upon product or service needs. Maybe it inspires people. Maybe we all just love a good story. But I think there's something more. When you tell a story people start to listen. If you have nothing to say then you can't start a conversation. People will not talk about your work, products, or services and they won't ask questions. I think opening a dialogue and starting a conversation will ultimately help you grow as an individual and as a brand. Feel free to give suggestions!